Nuclear Fusion... power for the future?

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Nuclear Fusion... power for the future?

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


PG.2.01, PG Building, Wheatley Campus


With fossil fuel reserves diminishing and concerns over climate change increasing, the hunt for alternative sources of energy has never been more important. In the middle of rural Oxfordshire in the UK, a thousand scientists and engineers are undertaking a project to develop a new source of energy – nuclear fusion. 


Fusion of hydrogen nuclei is the process that powers the Sun – and at the European JET project, located at Culham Science Centre, these processes are being replicated. By heating a gas of Deuterium and Tritium to 150-200 million degrees C and employing powerful magnetic fields, the JET tokamak has demonstrated the fusion of these nuclei and a subsequent release of energy (16MW - a world record for fusion power produced).


JET continues to lead the worldwide effort way towards commercial fusion power - answering ever more scientific and engineering challenges - and ensuring the next step international device ITER (located in Cadarche, France) will hit the ground running, when it comes into operation in the mid 2020s.


The first fusion power stations should be starting up in the next 30 years – harnessing the power of the Sun for all of us here on earth!


About our speaker: Robin Stafford-Allen


I am a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and started my professional life in the Motor Industry with a branch of General Motors -- Vauxhall/Bedford in Luton. I worked there as a Student Apprentice and gained my BSc (Birmingham, 1972) in Mechanical Engineering while training with GM.


After a Masters in Bio-engineering at Surrey (1976) I worked for several years on the engineering of the first generation of MRI magnets and cryostats with Oxford Magnet Technology, then part of Oxford Instruments.


I joined Culham in 1992, and have worked in Cryogenics and in the Heating and Fuelling of plasmas on-and-off ever since.


I recently spent a sabbatical six years as Director of Engineering for a small tenant company on the Culham site designing and constructing a large 1-metre-bore special superconducting magnet for the AMS-2 experiment (a mass-spectrometer) which was launched on the penultimate Shuttle flight to the International Space Station.


I have just retired from working at CCFE on the mechanical engineering of the plasma-heating equipment for the ITER machine, and the British fusion research effort MAST machine.


I work part time for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and teach engineering on a part-time basis at Oxford Brookes University.